Flat Turf Handicap Specialists: A Horse Racing System

'Filthy' Luca Cumani: Exploiter of 'caps

‘Filthy’ Luca Cumani: Exploiter of ‘caps

Some Context

I have a lot of betting systems that I track in a sort of ‘incubator’. I don’t bet any of them religiously, but I get a digest of the qualifiers each day and check various entries that catch my eye.

One of my best performers – and to some degree the inspiration for the Handicap First Run report inside Geegeez Gold – looks at horses having their first start in handicap hurdles. I also have other strong performers that look at flat horses having their first start in a handicap.

Both are of particular interest to me when the horses have been rested since qualifying for handicaps, and when they’re stepping up in trip for handicap debut.

Sometimes, in fact often times, a horse is simply no good and no amount of additional distance or time off will enable the animal to win. But often enough, the combination of freshness and a range over which the horse was bred to run can elicit stark improvement. These horses can win at prices, too, as evidenced by the successes this week of Anneani (33/1) and Guard Of Honour (16/1).

Gold subscribers will be interested to know that, as well as the Handicap First Time report, we’re planning to introduce a symbol on the racecard itself to flag when a horse is making its handicap bow. Of course, that in itself won’t mean it’s a good bet, but it will a) show how many in a race are in that particular boat, and b) encourage further digging via the report (we’ll hyperlink the indicator to the report for ease of use).

These are the little ways in which Gold race cards are setting new standards for how horse form should be displayed: in a simple, easy to access, time-saving format with stacks of relevant supporting data for those who want to go deeper.

To the meat of today’s bloggie. With those systems that I run, I’ve had particular success with the lower class handicaps. After all, exposed horses running in those races are ‘as good as they are’, with very little upside potential. Where better, then, to introduce a horse whose light may have been at least partially dimmed from the handicapper’s gaze in its initial races?

And I’ve come to know the trainers who are most adept at this strategy, and who take care of their owners’ interests in the process. I’ve argued at length that clued up punters can profit handsomely from this information, which is far from ‘insider’. Rather, it just requires a different focus on the puzzle. This post on the handicapping system is a must read.

Class 5 handicap hurdles are becoming a bit of a specialist area for me, and have been very profitable this past winter with the help of my system research and the Handicap First Run report. There are no Class 6 handicaps over jumps, but there are on the level, and so I thought I’d look specifically at Class 5 and 6 flat turf handicaps.

A quick aside: there is still a handful of Class 7 handicaps, though these are almost exclusively run on the all weather these days. While that grade is excluded from this research, it’s probably reasonable to assume similar principles apply.

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The System

Here’s the system then:

– Class 5 or 6 flat turf handicaps (UK only)
– Horse is 20/1 or shorter and running for the first time in a handicap
– Horse has been rested for between three weeks (21 days) and a year

Overall, from 2011 to now, that system won with 275 bets out of a total of 2252 bets (12.21%)…

…and made a LOSS of 15% on stakes.

That’s because not all trainers are made equal at this game. Looking at trainers who had at least ten qualifying runners, and whose win strike rate was at least 20% and place rate at least 33% gives a list of some of the shrewdest operators in the business:

– David (TD) Barron
– ‘Raif’ Beckett
– Karl Burke
– Luca Cumani
– Rae Guest
– Paul Midgley
– Jeremy Noseda
– Roger Varian
– Stuart (SC) Williams


The Results

That nonet are mostly already known for their handicap exploits, but there remains value in backing their ‘cap debutants off a break.

Pretty consistent profit from a selective number of bets

Pretty consistent profit from a selective number of bets

The good news is we’ve missed nothing this year so far, with all three placing but none winning.

Don’t expect there to be three qualifiers a day, mind you. This is a deliberately selective approach and will sit snugly in any portfolio. There will be roughly two qualifiers a week, with most of them in April to July.

Although past performance is no guarantee of future success (duh!), I’d expect there to be roughly 25 points profit at SP (more at early BOG prices or BFSP) from about 50 bets over the season.


How to find qualifiers

Finding qualifiers is easy. Just add these guys to your Geegeez Tracker (other tracker tools are available 😉 ), and you’ll be notified of their runners the night before. Just check the race class and days since a run and, from the subset of Class 5/6 21-365 days off horses, check for first time handicap status.

Alternatively, go to the Handicap 1st Run report and sort by trainer name. When you find one of the nine in the list, click his name to reveal all handicap 1st time starters today. Then click on each runner to see if it is in Class 5 or 6, and has been off for between 21 and 365 days.

Click the runner to open the race in a new window...

Click the runner to open the race in a new window…

And soon, as I say, you’ll be able to see the ‘H1’ symbol on the card to tell you whether a horse is having its first run in a handicap of that code (flat, hurdle, chase) today. That will make it even easier to pick these out.


p.s. no qualifiers today

p.p.s. If you’re not yet a Gold subscriber, I’ve extended the one month £5 trial until some time later today. So you can still go here to get on board.


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